Rockwell of the North
Dubbed “Rockwell of the North,” Gary McLaughlin’s talent for painting people is the key to his celebrated style.
Sports and Romance
The Canadian-born artist has a dynamic style that reflects the influence of internationally known illustrators such as Bernie Fuchs, Bob Peak, and Bart Forbes.
Gary McLaughlin has spent forty years working as a commercial artist.
Early Life, Education, and Career
McLaughlin graduated from Toronto’s Ontario College of Art in 1978, where he studied under legendary Canadian artist Will Davies.
His first job after graduation was with Harlequin, Ltd. His next would be to paint an original canvas for the 50th anniversary of Maple Leaf Gardens. Harold Ballard commissioned the work and personally directed the details of the images in the montage. The original hung in the lobby of the arena for over ten years.
Those two themes, romance and sports, would mark his decades-long career.
Painter of Canadian Athletes
His grit and expertise are evident in what may be his most significant work, Blue Sky White Snow, a 12′ 6″ oil painting for the Maple Leafs’ 100th-anniversary depicting every Toronto hockey player in the team’s history. In total, 963 images grace this remarkable canvas.
Throughout his forty-year career as a freelance illustrator, McLaughlin has painted for international clients, advertising agencies, and numerous sports superstars, including Wayne Gretzky, Mats Sundin, Bobby Hull, Bobby Orr, and the legendary Gordie Howe.
Career as a Romance Cover Artist
McLaughlin’s portrait skills were honed to perfection from years of painting romance novel covers for Harlequin Books and many other notable clients.
“It’s all boy, girl — doing what they do in Harlequin romance… I don’t know whether it’s a terrible thing to say, but [they] were all the same. You almost became like a technician, you know? You were following your reference so incredibly—it’s almost like a paint-by-number if you follow me.”GARY MCLAUGHLIN TO CBC
Still, despite the limits the work provided for his imagination, the covers brought in a steady income of “[as] much as $2,500 a cover… Back then, in the ’80s, it was very good money,” McLaughlin said
Between 1978 and the early 2000s, McLaughlin painted hundred of romance covers, casting and photographing the models himself for reference the photos.
Gary McLaughlin’s Legacy
Gary McLaughlin’s art has been featured on various platforms such as magazine covers, corporate annual reports, in-store displays, cereal boxes, CDs, collector plates and china, romance novels, newspaper and magazine ads, and limited edition prints.
His incredible talent and authentic technique of rendering the human face make him an artist’s artist.